Ghana’s Information and Communication Technology Sector has progressed over the last decade. As one of the first countries to introduce widespread liberalization in basic telecommunications services, in 1994, Ghana took an important step forward in embracing the potential of competitive markets to generate growth and innovation in the sector.
The ICT Industry comprises telecommunications operators, internet service providers, VSAT data operators, software manufacturers, broadcast institutions, ICT education providers, internet cafés, etc. Generally, the Ministry of Communications and the National Communications Authority (NCA) oversee activities in the sector.
The infrastructural base of the sector includes licensed gateway operators, SAT-3 Access, Private Licensed VSAT Systems, Fixed Wired Line Networks, Wireless Mobile Operators, Public telephones systems, Telecentres, Dedicated Transmission Networks, Public Distribution Networks(cable, TV, DSL, etc.), Internet Service Providers, Internet Backbone Connectivity throughout the Country and Public Access Point and Broadcasting Systems.
As an initiative to support emerging technologies, the Ministry of Communications is also facilitating the establishment of a Science and Technology Parks.
Ghana remains a very safe and secure investment destination. It has established the necessary legal and regulatory framework which guarantees the safety of investments in the ICT industry.
Ghana has been recognized as an attractive destination for Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and was ranked the No. 1 destination in Sub-Saharan Africa (ahead of Senegal and South Africa) and No. 25 globally out of 50 countries by the A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index (GSLI), 2011.
Over the last decade, internet usage has greatly increased in Ghana. Together with the mobile cellular market, the internet market in Ghana presents an important potential for growth and development. As a critical source of information, the internet is viewed as a significant development enabler.
Presently, Ghana has nearly eight times as many internet users as it did in the year 2000. The table below indicates the total number of internet users in Ghana (for the years 2000- 2009) and the users per 100 inhabitants. In 2000, Ghana had an estimated number of 30000 internet users. This increased over the years reaching 609800 in 2006. By June 2009, Ghana had nearly eight times as many internet users as it did in 2000 with the number of 997000 internet users.
• National Fibre Communications Backbone Infrastructure
To complement the efforts of the private sector in the extension of affordable and efficient connectivity solutions, the National Fiber Communications Backbone Infrastructure Network aimed at providing open access broadband connectivity is being developed.
Following the successful completion of the southern loop, the 2nd phase of the National Communication Backbone from Tamale to the northern parts of the country and neighbouring countries is being pursued.
• Promotion of Competitive Telecom Market
To promote the deployment of affordable wireless broadband access, the National Communications Authority (NCA) has commenced the development of modalities for allocation of Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WIMAX) service deployment to benefit all the major telecom sector players.
This intervention is aimed at encouraging the private telecom service providers to further plan their infrastructure deployment and invest in a strategic manner and also improve access and quality of service. In response to this intervention by the NCA, all the telecom sector players have launched challenging expansion programmes.
• The e-Ghana Project
Under the e-Ghana project, the Ministry of Communications (MOC) has developed certification and standardization procedures related to human resource capacity in Per(100) Inhabitants Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES). It has also developed investment promotion and support mechanisms to attract and retain investors in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and ITES businesses.
• IT/IM Career Classification
MOC with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has commenced the consultation process for the development of a Scheme of Service to define job content, career paths and appropriate remuneration packages for professional ICT/IM personnel. This is to facilitate their engagement in the civil/public service.
• Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL)
GIFTEL has been set up to facilitate the extension of communications services to underserved and un-served areas through the provision of common facilities. It has thus far completed a total of 39 Common Telecom Facilities and this has enabled telecommunications providers to extend their services to over 273 communities. For instance, GIFTEL has undertaken the common telecom tower service facility at Nandom (in the Upper West Region) which is now offering transmission coverage to over 10 towns including Lambushie, Boe, Burutu,Piiri, Basabli, Yipele, Naapal, Pofiem,Napaali, and Gengenkpe.
• Community Information Centres (CICs) and Data Centre
In furtherance of Government’s commitment to use ICT as a medium to promote an all inclusive information and knowledge based-society to benefit underserved and rural areas, the CIC concept was developed. At present, 120 out of the projected 230 CICs being constructed nationwide are at various stages of completion. 46 existing CICs have been equipped with internet facilities whilst 20 have been provided with equipment. Government is also pursuing the establishment of a centralized data centre for the storage of vital information.
• Government Assisted PC Programme (GAPP)
Government is working at the GAPP under the iAdvance Computer4All Project which aims at increasing the acquisition and use of personal computers at affordable prices in Ghana. This is also intended to encourage local entrepreneurial assembling of personal computers.
GT/Vodafone has extended broadband Internet services using copper to Kumasi and its environs, Obuasi, Cape Coast, Akosombo, Koforidua, Gbawe, Tamale, Bolgatanga, Wa, Ho, Takoradi, Tarkwa and so on.. Wireless technology has been used to provide additional broadband internet capacity for Labone, Spintex Area and Weija in the Greater Accra area.
• ICT Business Incubators
The Ghana Multimedia Centre (GMIC) has also supported the establishment of business s tar t -ups to suppor t and nur ture entrepreneurial development in ICT. WiceNet Ghana Limited is one such company which has grown to maturity to provide, through the primary medium of television, data, video and audio/voice services.
BusyInternet, one of the biggest internet cafés in West Africa, with a sitting capacity of more than 100 people at a time, has gained a reputation, local ly and internationally, as a champion of innovation in ICT enabled services, including call centre services.
Over the past two years, BusyInternet has been implementing an incubator service for start-up ICT companies. CBB Ghana Limited has developed a product t rack i ng, scan n i ng and identification of objects using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) with the support of the centre. Real IT Solutions a tenant-company of the GMIC, has also developed science educational software being tested with support from the centre.
• Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
The Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the Ghana Telecommunications University College has trained several Call Centre and Data Entry Trainers. Government has formally adopted and identified priority skills development areas within the BPO/ITES industry. Further, the BPO/ITES training curriculum has also been streamlined with the skill requirement of the industry. Modalities have also been finalized for the Business School of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology (KNUST) in collaboration with the Ghana Multimedia Incubator Centre (GMIC) to deliver business development training to clients under the ICT Business Incubation Programme.
• Development of Science and Technology Parks
To complement efforts at creating the conducive environment for real job creation in the area of ICT/ITES business initiatives, the development of Science and Technology
Parks under the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is being pursued. In this connection, Feasibility Study, Marketing and Business Model and Investment Strategy for the Parks have been developed. Also, the design and supervision of the construction of the Parks are ongoing.
• Automation of Revenue Generating Agencies
Government has concluded a Public- Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to automate the revenue agencies i.e. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Value Added Tax Service (VATS) etc.
• Broadband Connectivity
The Government has the focus of developing e-Government Points of Presence through the development of broadband connectivity to link all district capitals to the national high speed broadband.
• Enabling Legal Environment
In addition to 4 recently passed ICT sector Acts (including the Electronic Communications Act, Act 775, of 2008), the following bills are being developed:
Intellectual Property Legislation
• Data Protection/Privacy Legislation
• Regulations for e-transaction to enhance e-Government
• Consumer protection
• Dispute Resolution etc.
To further improve the postal services sector, a National Postal Policy is being developed. The National Communications Authority Act and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act have all been passed in the spirit of strengthening the capacity of the regulator i.e. the National Communication Authority, since the existence of fair competition depends on the fairness of the regulator.
• Digital Broadcasting Migration
Ultra High Frequencies (UHF) have been issued to existing TV Broadcasting stations for the implementation of the digital broadcasting migration.
• Mobile Number Portability
Ghana is working towards the phenomenon of mobile number portability. Mobile number portability provides improved quality of service and also protects the customer (or consumer) so that he/she is able to migrate from one network to another whiles maintaining personal ownership of a particular number he/she uses.
• Last Mile Effect
To ensure the continuous development of infrastructure, Government has particular interest in the “last mile effect”, which encourages the extension of fibre optic networks by the last mile to enable all districts and communities get connected.
There are considerable investment opportunities in the ICT sector. The sector requires service providers in connecting international voice calls to the local public network.
Internet Service Providers are also required to offer internet access to the public especially the rural areas at less cost and broadcasting operators to establish Radio and Television broadcasting in the country.
There is also a lack of ICT Facilities and Infrastructure on a broad scale across the nation. Investments are needed in the Provision of Software for the country, extension of the broadband network to reach the whole country and to provide computer access to rural students.
Technological and other support related services such as the supply of quality telecommunications equipment, ICT Equipment and Office and Network Equipment. There are also opportunities in the following areas:
• Education in the area of software development, networking, VSAT, telecommunication and IT Engineering
• Production of Business Solution (software and networking services)
• Business Processing Outsourcing
• Supply of High-Tech Telecommunication Equipment
• Back Office Operations (especially for the Financial Institutions)
• Provision of Broadband Facilities and Services
• Internet Service Provision Service
• Transaction Processing
• Manufacturing, assembling and supply of computers and accessories
• VSAT services
• E-commerce and Legal Database Services
• Logistics Management Services and Medical Transcription Services
Incentives to the sector may apply under the following provisions:
• Listed companies enjoy corporate tax of 25% and newly listed companies enjoy 25% corporate tax for the first three years
• Location Incentives (tax rebate) for manufacturing industries located in the regional capitals. The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, 1994, also provides for automatic incentives and benefits.